No amount of schooling can truly prepare you for one of the biggest milestones of your career – and that, of course, is the first job out of college. Being a recent college grad, I was fortunate enough to begin my career at a well-respected full-service marketing agency. Now that I have a few months of experience under my belt, I’m able to finally take a deep breath, relax, and share some of the lessons I learned while starting a new job “straight outta college.”
You can apply these tips to grow not only at your first job, but also throughout your career.
- Put in the extra effort: Don’t just complete tasks to simply get them off your plate. Always ask yourself, “Am I adding value?” and take the extra step to think it over. By doing so, you’ll provide helpful insight that won’t go unnoticed.
- Don’t always jump at the chance to speak: The best communicators aren’t always the ones who dazzle with a speech or leverage effective body language. They’re the ones who listen. During conversations, don’t just think about what you’re going to say next while your client is talking. Take the time to listen to what they’re saying, digest it, and then respond.
- Manage expectations: We all know about the importance of exceeding expectations, but what about the art of managing them? Be transparent with clients from the beginning. For example, if a target launch date seems doubtful, communicate your concerns immediately. If you wait too long, you may cause irreparable damage to your relationships. Which leads me to my next point…
- Value relationships: Invest time in learning about your coworkers just as you would with your own clients. Developing solid relationships improves communication and trust. A team will never deliver great work without a solid foundation.
- Don’t be a “yes” man (or woman): In an industry where ideas are worth their weight in gold, don’t be afraid to disagree. Collaborating doesn’t mean that everyone has to agree on everything. In fact, challenging ideas is often the best way to discover innovative solutions.
- Admit what you don’t know: When working with industry experts, seasoned veterans, and demanding clients, asking questions can be intimidating. But trust me, nothing good comes from being unclear on aspects of a project. That being said, put your ego aside and ask away. The most intelligent professionals aren’t the ones who know the most, but the ones who admit what they don’t know – and are confident enough to ask the right questions.
- Be flexible: The agency world is in a constant state of change. Be ready to learn, adapt, and grow. Take advantage of every opportunity to develop new skills. And take pride in adding to your professional skill set – each and every day.
Straight outta college – and into the real world
As with any job, don’t be afraid to dive in headfirst. Immerse yourself in the company culture to fully absorb its mission and values, and use every opportunity you can to learn. You’re not going to know it all. That’s a fact. So take that with a grain of salt, and apply what you do know to add value to your company. It may be unnerving, but remember: You were chosen for a reason.
Trey Evans is a project manager at Burns Marketing.